by Mark Kaye

The Boston music scene is on another uptick thanks to Paul Armstrong, owner of the Boston Music Awards who is bringing back the annual ceremony to the relevancy it once had when Candace Avery created the ceremony in the 80’s.

The relatively low key sold out event was sporadically littered with impressive performances by some of Boston’s finest performers. Some of the most impressive performances came from Hawthorne. The instrumentation and harmonizing within the group is enough to put you in a trance and in a place where all you can hear is the band on stage performing flawlessly.

The dark wave electro pop of House of Harm reverberated like a thunderstorm throughout the venue. Their dedication to the song shined through, and they were a nice vision as to what’s to come in local music and beyond.

Walking through the packed House of Blues, it was refreshing to see musicians of all genres represented and industry persons mingling with one another catching up or meeting for the first time. The community was present, and it would be even better to see support for each other more than once a year.

There seemed to be a bigger focus on New England hip hop than in years past, and based off of local success, maybe too much of a spotlight was on the particular genre. Boston hip hop has had its hills to climb for sure, but there is still much work to be done to bring it back to the national and local relevance it once had.

The representation of local hip hop onstage stole the show with Brandie Blaze killing it on the mic showing who’s boss woman in town and why all eyes need to be focused on this rare talent.

Social media ghost and relative unknown Jefe Replay came out swinging in all directions announcing his arrival on the big stage. He performed as if the stage was his and his alone, and the audience reacted by bouncing vicariously to his ferocious rhymes. His was hands down the best performance I’ve seen at the awards in years. It’s hard to find anything on him online, but onstage he lets everyone know exactly who he is.

The most heart warming performance came from Eddie Japan and Greg Hawks of The Cars and their tribute to the recently passed Ric Ocasek. Their opener “Let the Good Times Roll” had musicians from every genre singing back the local icon’s inspiring lyrics.

The future for Boston music and this awards show is bright. It would be nice to harken back to original awards shows and see more bands who broke into the national scene. Artists like Clairo, Joyner Lucas, Ripe, Juice, Sydney Gish, Ballroom Thieves, Darlingside, Lost Kings, Juliana Hatfield, and so many more share the stage with the up and comers like Phish, Aerosmith, Bell Biv DeVoe, Belly etc…once did, and one can hope that those performances are right around the corner.

Greg Roy plus author Mark Kaye

The night that shines a light on those who keep music alive in Boston is as important as the artists that keep it alive for the past, for now and for the future.

Artist of the Year: Cousin Stizz
Album of the Year: Clairo – Immunity
Song of the Year: STL GLD – The New Normal Pt 1
Live Artist of the Year: Oompa
New Artist of the Year: Lord Felix
Unsigned Artist: Jefe Replay
Video of the Year: Cousin Stizz – Trying to Find My Next Thrill
Vocalist of the Year: Julie Rhodes
Alt/Indie Artist of the Year: Future Teens
Americana Artist of the Year: Honeysuckle
Blues Artist of the Year: GA-20
Country Artist of the Year: Ward Hayden & the Outliers
Dance/Electronic Artist of the Year: Lightfoot
DJ of the Year: DJ Real P
Folk Artist of the Year: The Ballroom Thieves
Hip Hop Artist of the Year: Cousin Stizz
Int’l Artist of the Year: Soul Rebel Project
Jazz Artist of the Year: Yoko Miwa Trio
Metal Artist of the Year: Black Mass
Pop Artist of the Year: Clairo
Punk/Hardcore Artist of the Year: SkyTigers
R&B Artist of the Year: $ean Wire
Rock Artist of the Year: Valleyheart
Singer/Songwriter of the Year: Sidney Gish
Session Musician of the Year: Jonathan Ulman
Live Music Venue of the Year: House of Blues, Boston
Intimate Live Music Venue of the Year: Dorchester Art Project
Recording Studio of the Year: The Bridge Sound and Stage
Studio Producer of the Year: Sean McLaughlin
Live Production Engineer of the Year: Mike Green
Live Music Residency of the Year: Soul Sessions at Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen with NWASoul
Music Night of the Year: Soulelujah at the Sinclair
Music Promoter of the Year: Aaron Gray
Music Publication of the Year: Vanyaland
Music Journalist of the Year: Victoria Wasylak
Music Photographer of the Year: Emily Gardner
Music Podcast of the Year: It’s Lit Boston
Radio Show of the Year: Allston Pudding Radio/WTBU 89.3FM
617 Sessions Artist of the Year: House of Harm

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